It is fitting, that on the centenary year of the biggest shipping disaster ever recorded, that West Kirby Light Opera Society bring their wonderful production of Titanic the Musical to a city which has so many links with the doomed liner.
First performed on Broadway in 1997, the show became a surprise hit, and went on to win several Tony Awards that year.
Titanic the Musical follows the lives of several of the passengers and crew of the 'unsinkable' ship from when it set sail to its inevitable demise.
The show works so well because it is an outstanding ensemble production. It utilises the cast of nearly 100 very well, and it never appears that the stage is too full. Many of these ensemble numbers are beautifully sung, and the sound fills the Empire’s auditorium.
The size of the cast is also its ‘Achilles’ heel’ in that because there are so many characters, you don’t get to develop any emotional attachment as you do in the infamous James Cameron film, released in the same year.
The biggest problem with this show, however, is that everyone knows the story. This leads you wanting to hurry through some of the less exciting parts to get to the good stuff, and means that much of Act I seems pointless and overlong.
There are quite a few standout performances. Tia Gill, as second class passenger Alice Beane, who longs to break free of her social standing, is superb. Credit is also due to Matthew Mellor who sings gracefully with crystal clear diction.
Maury Yeston’s score moves the piece along nicely to its inevitable conclusion, but suffers from the fact that none of the numbers are particularly memorable.
It is the last 20 minutes of this show in which it really comes into its own. The music builds and the impending sense of doom is palpable.
WKLOS are well-known to put on ambitious shows, and this is indeed another. It has taken nearly 12 months of preparation to get this show onto the stage, and the effort which has gone into it is apparent. The costumes are vibrant and the choreography is tight.
It is certainly a risky show to go and see, but one that will pay off in the enthusiasm and energy that WKLOS bring. Go and see before it sets sail.